Over the years, I have tried many different ways to make coffee, from cowboy percolators to French press carafes to Chemex drippers. As I’ve moved through the years, however, the reduced acids of espresso have attracted me, and I happily settled on espresso for my java.
If you have tried conventional espresso machines, you are familiar with the grinding, the hissing, and the pumping that accompanies every cup. With the advent of the ROK espresso maker, all that goes away. With this truly portable device, now that perfect shot of espresso can be had wherever there is hot water — at the office, at your campsite, or just in the peace and quiet of your own kitchen!
Every morning, I use a Porlex hand grinder to reduce my beans of choice to fine fragments while my water comes to a boil. As the cylinder preheats, I am entranced by the curl of steam rising past the connection arms. Slowly raising the arms allows the water to drift past the plunger, and I gently press to heat the portafilter and my cup. Although it wasn’t designed for the task, the bottom of the Porlex works very well to tamp the grounds into the portafilter, and I’m ready for my espresso. Refilling the cylinder and raising the arms once again, I quietly and firmly press a perfect double shot of espresso!
On those days when milk is desired, the ROK comes with a hand-pumped milk frother. Although you can get your beverage hotter by frothing warm milk, you’ll find the foam is denser if you froth cold milk before heating it in the microwave.
Cleaning the ROK takes very little effort. For the most part, a quick rinse is all that’s necessary. Though some users will let it drip-dry, the ROK should be toweled unless you don’t mind water spots.
There are many alternatives on the market, and a devoted aficionado could easily spend $3000 for a high quality machine. Although they will all give you an excellent cup of espresso, they share two shortcomings: They all must be plugged in, and they all make noise.
With the ROK, the whole brewing process, start to finish, takes less than 10 minutes. Ten quiet, meditative minutes before I launch into the day!
Disclosure: I have happily owned and used the Presso, the earlier version of the ROK, for more than a year.
[Here's a 90-second video introduction to the ROK espresso maker. -- Mark Frauenfelder]